Research Article| Volume 102, ISSUE 3, P284-293, March 1997

Vancomycin-resistant enterococci

  • Barbara E. Murray
    Requests for reprints should be addressed to Barbara E. Murray, MD, Professor and Director, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Texas Medical School-Houston, 6431 Fannin, Room 1.728 JFB, Houston, Texas 77030.
    From the Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, and the Center for the Study of Emerging and Re-emerging Pathogens, University of Texas Medical School, Houston, Texas, USA
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      Enterococci have been recognized as an important cause of nosocomial infections for almost 20 years and as a cause of endocarditis for almost a century. While long known for their capacity of displaying multiple antibiotic resistant traits, the extent to which this could occur was not fully appreciated until the emergence of enterococci with acquired resistance to vancomycin; this resistance has been particularly problematic because it often occurs in the uncommon subset of enterococci that are also highly resistant to ampicillin—a combination with devastating therapeutic consequences. The observation that vancomycin resistance can be transferred to and expressed in other gram-positive organisms, for which vancomycin is often considered the primary therapeutic alternative, is a chilling reminder of just how close we may be to a wide array of potentially untreatable “killer” microbes.
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